5 arrested in India over attack on Swiss couple near Taj Mahal

5 arrested in India over attack on Swiss couple near Taj Mahal
A general view of the Taj Mahal in the city of Agra on January 26, 2008. (File photo by Reuters)
Updated 28 October 2017

5 arrested in India over attack on Swiss couple near Taj Mahal

5 arrested in India over attack on Swiss couple near Taj Mahal

NEW DELHI: Police in the eastern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have arrested five people in connection with an attack on a Swiss couple at Fatehpur Sikri, a monument 45 km from Agra city.

“There was an argument between the tourists and some locals on some issue, and this led to an altercation between them,” Ajay Anand, additional director general of police in Agra, told Arab News.
“During the altercation, some people threw stones at the couple and they were hurt. We’ve arrested five people, of whom three are juvenile. We’ll take speedy action to punish the culprits.”
Local journalists told Arab News that the 24-year-old Swiss man, Quentin Jeremy Clerc, was left with a fractured skull, while his girlfriend Marie Droz had fractures to her hand. The couple has gone to New Delhi for treatment.
The journalists said the conflict started when Droz was persistently asked to take selfies with local boys, and the couple was followed for more than a kilometer.
“The Agra administration isn’t revealing the full details of what transpired. Now that the news has gone international, it’s showing haste in taking action,” said an Agra-based reporter Arif.
Rajeev Saxena, secretary of the Tourism Guild of Agra, told Arab News: “All the tourist sites of India are going to be impacted by this incident.”
He said: “Foreign travel agents are enquiring about the situation in India, particularly Agra, which of late has received bad press.”
Saxena added: “Unfortunately, there’s no firm message from the government of India that we’re going to ensure the security of tourists. Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India, and the message emanating from the state isn’t good for the image of the country.”
Ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) assumed power in Uttar Pradesh under extreme right-wing leader Yogi Adityanath, the state has garnered negative media coverage.
There has been a systematic attempt to undermine the state’s Islamic heritage.
The removal of the Taj Mahal from the state government’s tourism list has also stirred controversy.
“The sectarian approach of the state government is unleashing anti-social elements who want to create trouble in Uttar Pradesh,” said Saxena.
According to data from the state’s Tourism Ministry, the number of foreigners visiting the Taj Mahal and other Mughal monuments has increased, but there has been a decline in the number of domestic tourists to these places. In 2016, 6.2 million domestic tourists visited the Taj Mahal, compared to 6.5 million in 2015.
“The state government’s sectarian approach is further denting the tourism industry in Uttar Pradesh, particularly domestic tourists, who are visiting Hindu religious sites such as Varanasi and Ayodhya,” Anupam Pandey, a journalist based in the state capital Lucknow, told Arab News.
“Adityanath has stirred so many pots at the same time that the whole state seems to be in chaos.”
But the BJP blames the previous government for lawlessness in the state. “Six months ago, we inherited a legacy of lawlessness,” Rakesh Tripathi, BJP spokesperson in Uttar Pradesh, told Arab News.
“Those elements who’ve been regular violators of the law still need to be controlled, though we’ve managed to cleanse the system to a great extent,” he said.
“The incident with the Swiss couple is unfortunate and shouldn’t have taken place, but you can’t blame us. We’re taking all the necessary action to redeem the situation.”
Pandey said: “The Uttar Pradesh government suffers from a huge trust deficit. People had lots of expectations from the new government, but the way it’s managing its affairs doesn’t inspire confidence among the common people. Crime has become a way of life in the state.”